interested in history, science, and pulp fiction
A delightful and humorous, if disturbing, exploration of genetics for the general public. I'd say it is up there with Bill Bryson's works. It is just the right level of technical for me. (By that, I mean it is technical, but with no prerequisites.) Each chapter is a separate essay, but the collection builds with some strategy towards overall impact, which I appreciated. The author adds a personal context as well, by getting his genome tested, and I enjoyed that. We have overt genetic issues in my family, and the "crap shoot" element of it is a harsh reality that I was glad to see included in this book, to personalize it.
The book is filled with information that is the best of semi-sensational science. For example, we have another creature interwoven into our every cell, that is somewhat creepy! The Y chromosome has peculiar behaviors that keep making it smaller, but it seems somehow never to disappear altogether. I find that provocative. All the other primates have 48 chromosomes, we only have 46. Hmmm. Toxoplasmosis changes behavior - I knew about that in rodents, but it is fascinating to think about how that works with humans. (And, the aforementioned attempts to create a 'humanzee,' quite disturbing.)
The narrator takes great delight in sharing these stories, and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance.
The best of popular science, for me, includes this 'wow' factor. I love being reminded of how interesting our world is, and how many more mysteries there are to solve. I have no doubt it won't be for everybody - but I liked it quite a bit.
This book uses stories to illustrate the history and current understanding of genetics. I first heard about this book on Radio Lab, and this book uses the same kind of narrative style to engage listeners in serious science through compelling mysteries and human dramas. I would recommend it to other amateur science geeks.
Apparently, there was a violinist with a really strong thumb. It may or may not have had to do with his genes. That's the level of insight you can expect about "Lost Tales of Love, War and Genius."
The book is an excellent history of the science and discovery of DNA. He also talks about the controversies surrounding the human genome project. However, I was expecting more information about how our genes shape our behavior in interesting ways. Something like "so-and-so discovered an argument gene prevalent in lawyers..."
The performance is engaging and the history is complete but the book was not what I was expecting.
This book was so very interesting. My genetics knowledge was marginally post-Mendel. If you are interested in matters scientific you must not pass this book by. If you think you might be interested in matters scientific but have either never tried or (somewhat predictably) tried Hawking's book as the entry then this is the book for you. This book has the wonderful combination of teaching you something and doing it in an interesting way.
Though science interests me, I find books -- even the ones that try to explain things "simply" -- fall short of their goal. This is another case of a topic that grabbed my attention, but the writing and narrative were less than understandable. I listen to most audiobooks while driving. This one certainly doesn't lend itself to that. You have to listen closely, then replay parts, then listen, then replay. In then end, it is just a disappointment.
Genetics had a profound mystery: why the difference in DNA sequences is minimal between species. The author explains the reason clearly in plain English. I really enjoyed it.
I don't think I have ever read a book twice, and I certainly have not listened to a book twice, but in this case I will make an exception. "The Disappearing Spoon" was a delightful compendium of intriguing scientific anecdotes, but "The Violinist's Thumb" is so rich with truly remarkable information, that I have to listen again.
Kean's description of the research into our DNA as it relates to our fellow primates is probably the most fascinating part of the book, particularly as the news continues to contain new discoveries on the human family tree.
Interesting detailed scientific
Yes. I enjoyed his book about the periodic table more, but The Violinist's Thumb was worth a listen.
No. It's very episodic. Great for short car rides.